When John Logie Baird enjoyed his first fleeting successes with his infant television technology – thus securing his place in the record books even though his version was pretty pants and soon overtaken by smarter options, fact fans – it’s hard to know what exactly the Scottish inventor believed his new wonder would bring to mankind.
One thing’s for sure, though – when he first slapped together an old hatbox, a pair of scissors, some darning needles, a few bicycle light lenses, a used tea chest, sealing wax and glue in his Hastings workshop nearly 90 years ago, he wasn’t thinking: “In the future, millions will sit back and watch other people doing the housework.”
Yes, there’s a whole world of wonder to be sought out thanks to the explosion of channels we have seen in recent years. Once we had to make do with just one choice of what to watch, then it became two, then three – now you can’t even count them, and if you’re prepared to hunt about you can track down high art, low sport, old quiz shows and crusty comedy any hour of the day or night.
So why do so many viewers seem drawn to programmes that are all about household chores?
We all know you can’t chuck a colander these days without hitting a TV chef demonstrating the many uses of foam, and there are all sorts of outlets for amateurs as well.
But knocking up a bit of grub – whether that’s a quick snack out of improbable ingredients, a Victoria Sponge to melt in the mouth or a whole dinner party to impress a trio of mismatched guests all ready to return the favour – is only one strand of home economics considered fertile ground for programme commissioners.
You can find out how to buy your house, how to remodel it, how to keep it spotless and how to sort out the garden, either on your own or with the help of a random group of strangers.
There are programmes packed with clever tips on making your household budget stretch, and the newest arrival on our screens is competitive sewing – sorry, isn’t that traditionally something that would be done by people watching the box in the corner as they sought some escape from the grim reality of everyday life?
It seems that only the aspects of humdrum housework that everyone agrees are the dullest drudgery have yet to be afforded their own showcase. There are countless programmes about cookery, but washing up has yet to be afforded its own celebrity series.
But that’s an opportunity, if you ask me.
And as soon as I can come up with a convincing competitive format that includes ironing, mowing the lawn, washing the car and unplugging the sink I will be making my pitch to the major channels. I tell you, housework will not get any tougher than this...